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Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen has tapped former Minnesota Viking Matt Birk as his running mate. 

The former state senator is the first of the many GOP candidates to announce a running mate in the contest against incumbent Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat. Birk was previously named Jensen's campaign co-chair. 

Their announcement goes all-in on the football theme, with Jensen saying "We need to take back the field, but we can't do it alone. We need a teammate who isn't afraid to hit back" before introducing Birk. Here's the video:

Birk, a St. Paul native who played with the Vikings until 2009 and then won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, has been outspoken about his conservative views. He has opposed abortion and same-sex marriage, including in 2012 when he expressed support for a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage in Minnesota. 

He has also been skeptical about Minnesota's and the country's approaches to handling the COVID-19 pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccine, saying he won't get it. His views on COVID-19 mirror Jensen's, who is a doctor in Chaska. 

In a statement, Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said, "By selecting Matt Birk as his running mate, Scott Jensen has doubled down on the far-right extremism."

“Scott Jensen has selected a running mate who is as committed to the far-right fringe as he is,” Martin said, calling this "far-right extremism" "out of touch with Minnesota's values"

Birk attended Cretin-Derham Hall and Harvard University, where he earned a degree in economics. He and his wife, Adrianna, have eight children. In 2019, they opened a faith-based school called Unity High School in Burnsville. 

In a statement, Birk said he "could not be more excited" to join Jensen's ticket, adding they are "in this race to win."

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